I recall Mclaren’s earlier book that became a trilogy – a new kind of christian – being banned in many churches. I get the sense that a lot of concepts or challenges presented in that book have since shaped many churches, even if indirectly.
A new kind of Christianity will undoubtedly cause at least just as much of a stir, if not more.
Here’s a few of my quick thoughts.
People are going to love it or hate it. It’s hard not to be provoked and challenged by the questions he brings up.
McLaren’s often known for offering great questions and little in the way of answers. I got the feeling this was a bit of a ‘coming out’ book (though I think McLaren honestly puts where he’s at every time he writes, he’s just a bit further down that path now).
Hardcore/New Calvinists will hate much of the answers he provides.
The premise of most of his arguments is based on the framework in which we see things. Change the framework and everything within it changes. The new kind of christian focused more on the modernist mindset, he goes further back with this book showing how much of our theology is based on a Greco-Roman platonic worldview obsessed with either/or states and perfection.
Process theology and the general arc of the biblical storyline also shapes how we continue to evolve in our faith and humanity
I think many churches will have a hard time matching up what McLaren proposes and their current statement of faith (ie. his views presented on Scripture, the second coming, etc.) At the same time I think most statements of faith are profoundly lacking, incomplete, and rarely represent the actual practice of the church anyways.
McLaren usually does an impressive job with ignoring critics and smothering those who differ with kindness, so I was surprised when he took an unnamed swipe at Mark Driscoll (he’s going to have a field day with this one). There’s definitely some extra edge in this book (but none more than the fury his critics have heaped upon him)
I wonder if there will ever be healing between the different ‘camps’ in the future?
Overall, I’m glad McLaren does what he does, even if I don’t agree with all of his ideas and approaches. My guess is critics will continue to hate him, because he isn’t what they want him to be. He’s not a defender of the faith (as it is). He’s not someone who’s just proposing new methodologies to timeless truth (as we know it).
I find it odd that many of us will allow ourselves to consume and be shaped by music, media, technology, etc. that may have a radically different theological concepts from us, but vehemently not want someone like McLaren to be heard.
Our planet is in enough of a jam as it is, can’t we just let the guy feel his way forward and share what he’s learning with the rest of us?
There’s some extra chapters available on his website that people should also dig into.